ECP declares Imran Khan disqualified in Toshakhana reference

Unanimous verdict deseats Imran for current term: ECP orders criminal proceedings against PTI chief for submitting false affidavit under Article 63(1)(P)

By: News Desk
Published: 10:08 AM, 21 Oct, 2022
ECP declares Imran Khan disqualified in Toshakhana reference
Caption: File photo.
Stay tuned with 24 News HD Android App
Get it on Google Play

The ECP has declared former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan disqualified in the Toshakhana reference, reported 24NewsHD TV channel. 

The four-member ECP bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja announced its verdict on Friday at ECP Secretariat in the Toshakhana reference filed against PTI Chairman Imran Khan declaring his National Assembly seat vacant. 

The decision which was made last month by the five-member ECP bench was unanimous. However, the verdict was announced by a four-member bench today as the ECP Punjab member Babar Hassan Bharwana could not attend the commission’s proceedings as he was not feeling well. 

According to the verdict, Imran Khan committed dishonesty and the commission has ordered criminal proceedings against him under Article 63(1)(P).

The verdict says that Imran submitted a false declaration to the Election Commission and lied in his annual returns. 

The verdict says that some of the gifts retained from Toshakhana were concealed in his assets. 

It says that Imran has been declared disqualified for the current term of assembly and has been de-seated as a member of the National Assembly.

ECP written order 

The 24NewsHD has got hold of some of the points of the ECP written order of the Toshakhana reference, according to which Imran Khan stands disqualified under Article 63(1)(P) as the latter submitted a false statement along with a false declaration. 

The order says according to Sections 137, 167, and 173 of the Election Act, Imran has committed the “offence of corrupt practice by making false statements and incorrect declaration”.  

“We are of the considered opinion that the respondent has become disqualified under Article 63(1)(P) of the Constitution read with Sections 137,167 and 173 of the Elections Act, 2017, consequently he ceases to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan and his seat has become vacant accordingly,” the order says adding that Imran deliberately concealed the Toshakhana gifts details while declaring his assets. 

The office is directed to initiate legal proceedings and to take follow-up action under Section 190(2) of the Elections Act, 2017.

Article 63 (1) (p) of the Constitution states that an individual is, “for the time being, disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or of a provincial assembly under any law for the time being in force”.

Prior to the announcement of the verdict, a number of PTI leaders including Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Faisal Javed, Shireen Mazari, Umar Ayub, Fawad Chaudhry, Asad Umar, Shahbaz Gill, and Ijaz Chaudhry were present outside the ECP. However, the capital city police barred the political leaders from entering the ECP building and stopped them at the gate. Many tried to climb over the gate to reach the building.  

The ECP had reserved the verdict in the Toshakhana case on September 19 last.

The reference was filed against the PTI chairman by the coalition government, for "not sharing details" of Toshakhana gifts and proceeds from their alleged sale.

Established in 1974, the Tosha­khana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.

According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

However, the PTI, while in government, had been reluctant to disclose details of the gifts presented to Imran Khan since he assumed office in 2018, maintaining that doing so would jeopardise international ties, even as the Pakistan Infor­mation Commission (PIC) ordered it to do so.

On August 4, lawmakers from the Pakistan Democratic Movement — which is part of the ruling alliance — filed a reference for the PTI chief's disqualification from public office under articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution over his hesitance to share the details of Toshakhana gifts.

In its hearing on Aug 29, the ECP had sought a written reply from Imran by Sep 8. In his reply, the PTI chief had admitted to having sold at least four presents he had received during his tenure as the prime minister of Pakistan.

The former premier, in his reply, maintained that the sale of the gifts that he had procured from the state treasury after paying Rs21.56 million fetched about Rs58m. One of the gifts included a graff wristwatch, a pair of cuff links, an expensive pen and a ring while the other three gifts included four Rolex watches.

According to the AFP, former prime minister Imran Khan was disqualified from running for political office for five years, after the election commission ruled he misled officials about gifts he received from foreign leaders while in power.

"The ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) has declared Imran Khan was involved in corrupt practices," Gohar Khan, one of his lawyers, told reporters, adding he had been disqualified for five years.

"We are going to challenge it in the Islamabad High Court right now."

The case centres on a government department known as "Toshakhana", which during the Mughal era referred to the "treasure houses" kept by the sub-continent's princely rulers to store and display gifts lavished on them.

Government officials must declare all gifts, but are allowed to keep those below a certain value.

More expensive items must go to Toshakhana, but in some cases the recipient can buy them back at around 50 percent of their value -- a discount Khan raised from 20 percent while in office.

Media in Pakistan has for months carried lurid stories alleging Khan and his wife received lavish gifts worth millions during trips abroad.

They included luxury watches, jewellery, designer handbags and perfumes.

Khan is accused of failing to declare some gifts, or the profit made from selling them.

This week, Khan won six of eight national assembly seats he stood for in a weekend by-election, a vote he called a referendum on his popularity.

The 70-year-old has attempted to disrupt Pakistan's political process since his April ouster when he ordered all his lawmakers to give up their seats, leaving no PTI members in the National Assembly.

He has also vowed to soon announce the date of a "long march" of his supporters on the capital to pressure the government to announce an earlier national election than that scheduled for October next year.

He rode to power in 2018 on a populist platform promising social reforms, religious conservatism and a fight against corruption, overturning decades of rule by two feuding political dynasties interspersed with military takeovers.

But, under his tenure, the economy stagnated and he lost the support of the establishment.

Security cordon

A heavy security cordon had been thrown around the office of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The ECP had issued notices to all the respondents including Imran Khan in this regard.

Following issuance of the security order by the ECP, about 1,150 security men including one SSP, five SPs, six DSPs had been deployed at the ECP building. The ECP had demanded Rangers, FC and police from the interior ministry for security which had also been deployed. 

The authorities had also limited the entry into Red Zone. Police officials said they had declared high alert and did not allow PTI activists to reach the ECP office.

Reporters: Usman Khan and Farzana Siddique

Categories : Pakistan